What is Jugad?
Jugad can colloquially and loosely be defined as a practice of getting things done by investing minimal efforts and getting the desired outcome with an element of exigency attached to getting things done with least care for the system. Whereas, optimization is doing things with minimum cost/efforts/time in getting it done. Often, the later is used in situations to showcase early results but not at the cost of compromising or impacting the system adversely. In Jugad, there is an element of recklessness, lack of concern for the system and accountability. Often it involves dubious methods and approaches. Jugad is when someone gets the license after flouting the system in a spurious way.
Jugad is not Innovation
Innovation is deeply embedded in the common mind of most amongst us, we call it common sense. Most citizens have a healthy dose of common sense, that is often used in our day to day life. It brings a fundamental advantage in several ways. However, Jugad has a negative connotation and it is self-defeating, for the person and indirectly for the wider society. Despite, like an addiction, we believe it is a great attribute of smartness and keep indulging in it with pride, at the cost of crumbling character. The invention is when Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan) suggests an innovative idea to push the satellite into outward orbits with limited energy (as in Mission Mangal).
Jugad is not Technical Debt
Often a similar term is used in Information Technology (IT) Programming wherein a feature has to be pushed into production at the desired date to achieve a Go-To-Market objective. Yes, it does result in fallacies in the code and does involve a lack of diligent testing beforehand, but it is not at the cost of overall system compromise. It underpins an Agile methodology for code development. Below examples will illustrate Technical debt, and I have taken little extra deep dive to explain the different types of technical debts.
Carnegie Mellon University defines it as “a conceptualizes the trade-off between the short-term benefit of rapid delivery and long-term value”. A design or construction approach that is expedient in the short term but that creates a technical context in which the same work will cost more to do later than it would cost to do now (including increased cost over time) whereas Gartner defines technical debt “as the deviation of an application from any nonfunctional requirements”. What does this have to do with our ordinary “Jugad”? Technical debt emphasizes two paths to choose:
The easier route – made up of messier code or design, will get you there faster.
The harder route – made up of cleaner code and design that takes a lot more time.
It is unavoidable, unintentional and planned. It expedites pushing code but never with malicious intent.
So What Is Jugad?
I will cite an example. Never have I felt good after receiving a traffic citation. I complained but realized, that citation has always helped me reduce my speed and be more attentive. No one will disagree that this effect was everlasting. It might have prevented untoward incidences. However, I always grumbled for getting a citation. In the US, the only way to redress the citation is by legal means, any other means is counterproductive. However, in India, other means can be adopted for faster redressal.
Recently, there was a huge fire in Delhi (Dec 8, 2019) with a death toll of over 35. It is definitely a somber and tragic event. I am sure, the City Corporation of Delhi must be having its own fire rules and regulations. However, I am also sure that those might have been intentionally overlooked. A post facto analysis may reveal the truth later.
In a nation where bridges and buildings keep falling like a pack of cards, it is only newsworthy to read such death tolls and we feel the pain and despair only for a few moments. We lament express shock and get back to our work. However, the underlying phenomenon is our own fallacy and lack of commitment and abject ignorance of true empathy. Incidences like the huge fire in Delhi, the crumbling bridges and buildings or the smog in Northern India are tragic outcomes of a Jugad attitude. It is painful to see recurrent high death toll from such incidences. Unfortunately, we need incidences like this to learn reactively. Of course, some learning will definitely be an outcome, policy books will be updated by city planner, corrupt official, and expediency by owners will override these, NGOs may criticize and some matters will go to courts while others will be pushed beneath the rug.
Indians often pride expediency and leverage our capabilities in getting things done, hardly ever realizing that every moment, every incidence of individual contribution, adds to this Jugad character of the national identity.
There is a great deal of criticism about India as a $5 Trillion economy. People are a skeptic but India is already beyond $5 Trillion Economy. I am taking a futuristic view. According to PwC and the World Economic Forum, India is bound to be a $28 Trillion Economy and China a $50 Trillion Economy. I have an even better prediction about that but first, India needs to fix the parallel process, commonly called ‘Jugad’.
As a rising nation, Indians have to abandon this parallel process (Jugad) mindset. Like it is imperative to dismantling a parallel economy, so is it equally important to dismantle this Jugad mindset and commit to hardship and build a character. Finally, every country has a character and characteristics and this is one character that will lampoon India as trailing Pakistan in the future.
Summarily, I can say with a lot of certainty that almost everyone indulges in Jugad frequently, if not the least evert now and then. However, some pride themselves only on Jugad. If only we can stop our temptation and fix our attitude of falling for short cuts at the cost of the system that would be best application of introspection.
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Additional Illustration on technical debt –